We’re leaving the zoo. The car is parked at the far end of the lot. It’s going to be a trek and my 3 kids are already tired.
The middle child is complaining about the walk, “It’s too far!! I can’t make it! I can’t walk that far!!”
I try making the walk fun. “Let’s skip!”
She responds, “I DON’T WANT TO WALK!”
I try encouraging. “Won’t the air conditioning feel good once we get to the car?”
Louder, she yells, “I DON’T WANT TO WALK!!!!”
Feeling discouraged and starting to get frustrated, I suddenly remember a brain-based strategy I learned in a training recently.
We stopped walking. I knelt down in front of her, making sure I was below her eye-level. I held her hands and began to respond to her screaming using empathy.
“You really don’t want to walk to the car.”
She yells back, “I REALLY, REALLY DON’T WANT TO WALK TO THE CAR!!”
I respond, “You really, really don’t want to walk to the car.”
And then…the most miraculous thing begins to occur. She starts to soften. Her face turns from anger to sadness. Her shoulders start to relax.
Suddenly, she collapses into me. Starting to cry. I hug her for a minute.
When she’s calm, I ask, “How should we get to the car?”
And that’s what we did.
Getting below your child’s line of sight can make the difference between a huge blowup and a productive conversation. It can take a child from the brink of destroying your living room, to sitting calmly in your lap. It’s almost too simple.
This strategy comes from Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of The Whole Brain-Child.
When we speak to our children from an authoritarian posture, standing above looking down, our child’s brain feels threatened. It signals the “fight or flight response” in the brain. Positioning yourself under your child’s line of sight keeps the brain from feeling triggered.
A calmer brain = less tantrums
Instead, simply respond to your child with their own words. Paraphrase what you hear them saying. If you get it wrong, your child will correct you. Then, paraphrase back their clarification.
If you get stuck. Be silent for a minute. Take a deep breath.
Deep breaths = calmer brain = less tantrums
Give It A Try!
If you’re thinking, “This seems too simple. There’s no way this will work with my child,” I encourage you to give it a try anyway. For my middle daughter, it works like a charm. I can try other methods, but this one works every time (I’ve had a lot of opportunities to practice lately!).
I would love to hear your success stories! Feel free to post your experiences in the comments.
Need More Support?
Changing your parenting is not always easy. Sometimes, it helps to have an outside perspective and someone to walk with you as you change things that are not working well with your parenting. Parent Coaching can provide individualized education and support over the phone when it is convenient for you. If you are interested in learning more, Contact me for a no-obligation phone call. You’re not alone. Let’s work together!
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